Dear Mexican: I’m wondering what your thoughts are on the use of Lotería cards as decorative elements, specifically when used by people without Mexican heritage. Lotería cards are beautiful and interesting, but is using an image from the cards without a connection to any specific history, culture, or meaning (like on a tote bag or the like) a disrespectful appropriation? Or is it just a fun game like checkers that happens to include some interesting artwork?
Dear Gabacha: While gabachos have appropriated Mexican everything ever since they took our cuitlaxochitl flowers and renamed them poinsettias after some pendejo ambassador or other, I’m a bit more lax with Lotería. While this bingo-esque board game goes back to the 1700s, its most iconic pictograms—like the bare-chested mermaid “La Sirena” or the derelict borracho called, fittingly enough, “El Borracho”—aren’t cultural patrimony so much as the intellectual property of Don Clemente, Inc., a for-profit company. And while it’s easy to get mad at gabachos doing its own take on Lotería cards, it’s akin to doing the same with Monopoly figurines. We’re talking about a private, capitalist enterprise here, not la pinche Virgin of Guadalupe. Besides, Mexicans appropriate ourselves all the time—and if you don’t believe it, ask the tehuanas in Oaxaca how they feel when fresas from Guadalajara steal their steez.
Dear Gabacho: Ah, the ultimate Chicano parlor game, one brought closer to reality by our incoming president! It’s all about context. Mexicans here have fought the narcos south of the border for the past couple of years with arms shipments and even brigades, so you’d expect the same if Enrique Peña Nieto announced he’d use his cartel amigos to try and invade el Norte. If Trump decided to move on Mexico for not trying to build a wall, you’d see a lot of hilarious memes but no uprising, as much as yaktivists would want you to believe. But if Trump starts mass roundups, let’s just say raza won’t take it quietly. I’d say more, but then the FBI would show up at my doorstep and disappear me to some black site or other for further questioning with Señor Waterboard.
Dear Pocho: Nope. And this is how pathetic Hollywood is: 40 years ago, television was confident enough in a bilingual show about the Latino immigrant experience that it made a sitcom about a Cuban family that aired nationwide on PBS. Today? They do entire films about Los Angeles, like La La Land, and show a total of one Latino character in the film. Chris Rock put it best: “You’re in L.A, you’ve got to try not to hire Mexicans.” I’d end on a funnier note, but trying to follow Chris Rock is like eating drinking Cazadores, then following up with Sauza—and I’m not even as good as Sauza.